Since its founding in 1978, Shari’s Café & Pies operates nearly 100 family dining restaurants that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the western United States. Then in 2018, the company acquired 39 Coco’s Bakery and 7 Carrows Restaurant locations in Arizona, Nevada, and California.
Ready. Chef. Go! began in 2014 with a basic idea: offer the public a quick and convenient way to cook fresh, minimally processed, restaurant-quality meals. In a hectic world, people want healthy, satisfying meals, but often lack the time using traditional cooking methods. As a result, Ready. Chef. Go! began producing an alternative cooking method, our cooking bags for the microwave, oven, grill, and slow cooker that make cooking easy and require virtually no clean-up.
In 2019, Shari’s extended its Holiday Meal Program to its newly acquired sister brands, offering traditional carryout Thanksgiving and Christmas meals throughout November and December. The dining in at home holiday feast included turkey breast or honey ham, along with all the trimmings and dessert.
Shari’s, Coco’s, and Carrows sought a better method for packaging the meat and side dish servings included in the holiday heat and eat meals it offered for carryout and delivery. The company sought solutions for three challenges:
1. How could the company easily package the holiday ham, turkey, and sides included in the meal kits to keep up with the heavy demand?
2. What packaging would be best for customers to prepare and cook or reheat the holiday carryout meals at home? Since traditional polypropylene containers cannot be used in traditional ovens, it makes reheating difficult.
3. Because the restaurants were partnering with food-delivery firms, how could customers be assured that their food would not be tampered with between its packaging and its arrival at their door?
Shari’s, Coco’s, and Carrows narrowed its holiday meal packaging possibilities to two options: its current plastic “to-go” containers and Ready. Chef. Go!’s sealable tamper-evident bags. In the end, the restaurant chain chose Ready. Chef. Go! microwave and oven cooking bags because the bags provided a better alternative for maintaining the integrity, texture, freshness, and flavor of the meals’ protein and bread servings.
Nicole Simpson, a culinary operations analyst with Shari’s, said the Ready. Chef. Go! bags “worked out great because you can reheat right in the bag. We sold the meals cold, so the restaurant operators could package them up ahead of time.”
Selling the meals cold was the preferred solution because it ensured that regardless of when the customers picked up the carryout meals or had them delivered, either days or hours before they sat down to enjoy the holiday meal, the heat and eat meal could be ready in no time. Ready. Chef. Go! cooking bags made the process painless as the food did not have to be transferred to other containers or cookware.
With the bags’ tamper-evident seals, customers were assured their meal pouches had not been opened between the time they were prepared in the restaurants and their delivery via third-party services so the meals remained safe and without leaking or spilling.
Shari’s, Coco’s, and Carrows were able to improve their holiday meal offering and achieve its goal of increasing prepackaged holiday meals for dining in at home.
Ready. Chef. Go!’s ability to solve all the challenges the client faced helped solidify the relationship between the brands. Ready. Chef. Go!’s sales team had already built a trusting relationship with Carrows and Coco’s, having supplied the chains with LK Packaging foodservice products, including portion-control bags, for eight years before they were acquired by Shari’s. Those contacts helped the company establish contacts and solidify a relationship and partnership with the new ownership group for future holiday carryout meal programs.
With major family holidays quickly approaching, now is a great time to start thinking about ways you can offer easy and convenient to-go meal options. Contact us to learn more about Ready. Chef. Go! cooking bags and containers and how they can be utilized for your holiday meal kits.